Saturday, November 29, 2008
Why is there no SAG permanently in Bombay?
The National Security Guard was established in 1985 after Operation Blue Thunder when the need for a dedicated anti-terrorism squad was felt. The NSG is a highly skilled, highly equipped and highly trained outfit of 14,500 commandos on deputation from the army, navy and air force.
The NSG has a dedicated counter terrorism and counter hostage wing known as the Special Action Group, SAG, which is tightly focused on rescue and counter attack in situations of terrorist and hostage situations.
The other wing of the NSG is known as the Special Rangers Group, SRG, whose job is to defend VVIPs (VV Important People/Places) from terrorism and other attacks and they can be seen guarding people such as the Prime Minister and important locations.
What struck me most about the terror attacks on Bombay that started 2 days back is that the Bombay Police where highly ill-equipped to handle terrorism. And ofcourse that is normal. A city's police force is raised to deal with crime and protection from anti-social elements, not high trained terrorists. One cannot expect a city's police force to have the budget, training and politics to be able to handle enemies who have been obviously trained to the standards of special forces.
The other thing that struck me was that the SAG had to be flown in from New Delhi to deal with the terrorists in Mumbai. By the time they left it was 1:30am (the crisis began at 9:30pm) and by the time they reached the airport and then onward onto the specific locations, it was already 6:00am. All the killing and hostage taking happened between 9:30pm and 6:00am! Infact as soon as SAG got in they started freeing the hostasges with the 1st batch being released at 6:30am.
So why does an important and venerable city like Bombay, the commercial capital, not have a SAG battalion based locally? why do they have to be flown in from Delhi?
Is it something to with politics? Yesterday the Chief Minister of Maharastra was quoted in the papers as saying that "we need to raise a force like SAG in Maharashtra" !!! Why???
I think it's the fault of disgusting politics and sheer Indian incompetence that there is no SAG unit in Bombay. In addition to the benefits of rapid response time, the team will be familiar with local establishments and terrain, making them that much more effective.
For the sake of nearly a 1000 people that lost their lives in Bombay and so that their sacrifices do not go in vain, let us be sensible and setup a SAG permanent unit in this great city.